My first podcast and the question I most want to be asked
This morning I woke up feeling uninspired. I didn’t feel connected to my creative process or to any one else's. Thinking of today's Museletter, I asked myself: what can I share today?
I went on Twitter and saw a post that today is national women’s friendship day. Now I’m not a person who normally cares about national holidays, but I love to use a "national day" as a prompt, a jumping off point for ideas. Womens' friendship felt like a great theme, so I reached out on Facebook to ask my friends if anyone had something they wanted me to feature in the Museletter. I didn't get any bites, but then I just thought about all my creative and amazing friends and it was easy to think of inspiring things to share.
Then I remembered that my first podcast interview is going live tomorrow and that I could share that. And then a theme emerged, not just of my friends' creativity, which is something I often feature, but also the theme of interviewing organically emerged. I felt a driving sense of synchronicity as the ideas flowed.
I am an avid listener of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and have always secretly dreamed of being interviewed myself. My wish came true last week, when I shared my story with Meg Kissack for her podcast, The Couragemakers.
To continue with this theme of friendship and interviews, I’ve decided also, to interview myself. I think it's on theme, as I've also recently decided to be a good friend to myself. Over the years, I have used EFT, meditations, therapy, art, physical self care, asking for help all as methods to love myself back into healthy self esteem. Just as creativity and art-making is highly important to me, so is self-love. It’s one of those things that just slips out the door first when we feel threatened or insecure.
So with out further ado, here is my self-interview:
Q: What are some questions you are dying to be asked, Zoë?
A: I want you to ask me how I learned to sing.
Q: Okay, how did you learn how to sing?
A: Well it took me about thirty years or so. And of course, I’m still learning. As a kid, I was ashamed of my voice and my singing, but I dreamed of being up on stage singing my heart out. It was just understood that I was one of those people who "couldn’t sing." However, there was a part of me, the gritty, optimistic part of me, that just couldn’t accept that. And that part of me believed that I could learn how to sing.
So I asked everyone I ever met who could sing if they could teach me. I asked friends, I hired professional teachers and coaches and even a voice therapist. I bought courses, downloaded audio books, and attended weekend workshops.
Each person and experience taught me something valuable. But as time passed, I saw that as helpful as the warm ups and the techniques were, what I really needed was to accept my voice as it was so that I could free it to be what it could become.
Accepting my voice was about working through shame and discomfort. It was about tapping into beginner’s mind and being willing to practice. A lot. I learned that through practice, I could learn how to learn. Learning to sing is about really slowing down and listening deeply to your voice as you sing. It’s about listening to recordings and identifying what you want to change. It’s about using your creativity to find ways to work with your natural limitations. It’s about feeling enough self love to keep trying even when it can be so difficult.
Q: Did you ever have a "breakthrough"?
A: One day, a few years ago, as I practiced singing through a microphone I started to open up the back of my throat much wider than I normally do.I started to see how singing (and all art) is about a balance between freedom and control. And I realized in that moment that I had spent so much effort trying to not sound bad, that I had actually kept myself from really singing out. I had restricted my voice so much that it came out thin and uncertain. As I opened up the channel of my throat and mouth, I opened up my sound too. It was a revelation. And I finally got that I had been not singing more than I had been actually singing. Holding back rather than letting out. And suddenly singing became so enjoyable, so expressive, so satisfying. And I actually liked what I heard. It was my breakthrough.
Q: How do you feel about your singing now?
A: My singing will never be "perfect." There will probably always be a part of me that will hear my voice as not “good enough.” But, then I remember that that isn’t my goal as a musician or as an artist. In fact, if I am honest about the whole trajectory of my art career, I would say the underlying theme has always been about embracing imperfection and revealing what's normally hidden. It's about my love of working with mistakes, revealing the process, expressing with a touch of rawness. It is my aesthetic and ethical preference to be more of an outsider artist. I find honest human expression to be the most beautiful thing in the world. And in that, I embrace my voice for what is now, for what it’s become. It represents a journey of thousands of hours of training, failures & experiments. It holds conflicting emotions, different aged and gendered selves. My voice is whole.
Q: What did you ultimately learn from this journey of developing your voice?
A: I believe that my soul choose this life for me and in this life I was meant to struggle with my voice, and learn everything I need to know from overcoming my struggles, and pursuing my dreams and callings. I believe I was meant to be a voice to inspire others to dream and live according to their own soul’s path.
Q: Well Zoë, I’m afraid that’s all we have time for today. But maybe next week I will have more questions for you. Thank you.
A: No, really, thank you.
Interviewing yourself may seem strange or silly. But those of you who have taken Art Journal Lab with me or practice art therapy or art journaling, or who have signed up for my October Online Intensive will know that interviewing yourself, or parts of yourself is illuminating, fun & almost always surprising.
Love & Creativity,
P.S. Are you interested in being interviewed? Here are two opportunities:
Written interview with me to be posted on my blog and conducted via email. Topics: creativity, spirituality, education, the arts, culture, psychology. Email me.
Be featured on a podcast! Submit for an interview with Introspectology.